Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Evolution of the Word


African history has a vast philosophy – one transferred over many years. Only until the coming of Westerners with their methods of writing, the most common form of communication among African people was the word of mouth. These days, most people find more valuable; documented information than that passed on by mouth. It is quite reliable and can be easily stored up for later. However, for so many years every form of identity that the African attributed with his heritage was somewhat passed on by word of mouth. In my own culture, children would sit among the elderly in the homestead and listen attentively as family issues were discussed with the hope that they would borrow a leaf from the manner in which their fore-runners discussed and came up with solutions.

An African adage says, “he who speaks remembers less compared to he who is spoken to.” The idea being that most of us feel that we have the freedom and will to say whatever it is we feel – we feel, without considering the true power that words truly have. One wonders that had it not been for the verbal instructions given us in our earlier days – that fire was hot and as such should not be touched or that certain words were not to be used to people older than us, would we be able to survive the jungles that we juggled growing up.

While a vast amount of knowledge can be attributed to what information specialists call ‘Explicit Knowledge’ –  the kind that is documented and written down, it would be unwise to dismiss the influence of straight out of the mind work – or as is intellectually referred; ‘Tacit Knowledge’. Think of it this way, if you and I sat down to talk about the ideas that we both may have and share on the above stated subject, we would most likely come up with far much more than can be inscribed in books and research papers. Moreover, that even if we decided to document our individual arguments, we would not possibly exhaust completely what it is that we may feel about a topic.

Speaking is practical – so is writing though in differing dimensions. One involves the use of ‘gun-point’ “think before you say” methods that command instant research on the political, social and religious correctness of a topic before utterance is made. The other allows for room to reconsider their position and posit their argument in a way that is more befitting and acceptable to their status and expectations. While this guarantees an almost perfect sense of communication, it prevents us from knowing what people really truly feel and think.

While speech can hardly be directly attributed in its exact form – it leaves the much needed room for self-expression. It may appear today as though less attention is given to the things that people say, but truly very much attention is given to the small things that come out of your mouth. People actually usually care more about what you say than about what you write – in most cases. You’ve probably watched the clips of someone’s words of 10 years ago that where caught on camera being brought up and compared to their current opinions. Or even marriages that have ended, just because “she said” or “he said”.
Careful what you say out there… God bless you!


Twitter: @Rev_Nyoni

Facebook: Stephen Nyoni

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